Everything Must Change

Like it or not, everything MUST change, including SAP’s analytics roadmap.

You’ve probably never heard of Benard Ighner. But in 1974 he penned a song entitled “Everything Must Change” which he performed on the Quincy Jones album Body Heat. Since then, the song has been widely covered by artists in the pop, jazz and R&B genres.

Everyone must change
Nothing stays the same.
The young become the old,
Mysteries do unfold.
‘Cause that’s the way of time
Nothing and no one goes unchanged.

Everything Must Change by Benard Ighner

Last month, SAP analytics executive Mike Flannagan published a February 7, 2018 blog that was a prelude to a February 15, 2018 #askSAP webinar. His blog was entitled A Deeper Look into SAP’s BI and Analytics Strategy and made two key points, one intentional and one not.

First, the intentional message was that SAP is focusing on one data discovery solution, SAP Analytics Cloud. This means that SAP Lumira Discovery- freshly released in 2017 after an extensive and lengthy redesign- will only see small maintenance releases during 2018 and 2019 while SAP Analytics Cloud will continue to be updated every two weeks. Many SAP analytics customers will be unaffected by this announcement, as they have settled on a best-in-breed analytics strategy with Tableau, Qlik, or Microsoft PowerBI as their tool of choice. There will be some disgruntled customers who bought into SAP Lumira, which does not have an automatic migration path to SAP Analytics Cloud.

Second, the unintentional message in Mike Flannagan’s blog was that SAP Analytics Cloud is becoming the primary analytics offering by SAP. Oh sure, the SAP BusinessObjects BI platform is still supported, but the goal is to loosely integrate it with SAP Analytics Cloud via the SAP Analytics Hub, another SAP Cloud Platform-based offering. A red flag for SAP BusinessObjects on-premise customers is this- “SAP has recently extended support for SAP BusinessObjects BI Platform 4.2 by two years”. This “great news” means that End of Mainstream Maintenance for BI 4.2 now occurs on 12/31/2022 and End of Priority One Support Phase now occurs on 12/31/2024.

SAP is to be commended for its current strategy of continuous innovation via support packs, which will continue into 2018 with SAP BusinessObjects BI 4.2 Support Pack 6 being released in the July 2018 time frame and Support Pack 7 being released in the December 2018 time frame. However, contrary to any “rumors” that you may have heard, there are no current plans for SAP BusinessObjects Business Intelligence 4.3. This is unfortunate, because there are significant innovations that need to come to the BI platform but won’t on a support pack budget. And according to SAP’s roadmap, the BI platform will become an innovation-free zone, as any cool and modern technology will only be added to SAP Analytics Cloud.

SAP’s new analytics strategy has significant impacts for its customers who love the on-premise (but also cloud-ready) BI platform. Its strategy even has significant impacts for analytics professionals such as myself who find themselves at a skills crossroads. The SAP BI platform isn’t quite dead (heck, Desktop Intelligence has been dead for years and many of you are still out there using it!), but it’s no longer a solid foundation for a career with analytics- SAP or otherwise. I’ll be exploring both of these angles in future blog posts.

Nothing and no one goes unchanged. But for now, enjoy a two-minute, heart-pounding arrangement of “Everything Must Change,” performed by the world-champion Blue Devils drum corps in their 2017 show, “Metamorph”.

Is your organization’s analytics strategy changing in response to SAP’s recent announcements? Share your thoughts in the comments below.


Thoughts on the SAP Digital Boardroom

There are some compelling things about the SAP Digital Boardroom and I’ve shared some observations from recent partner training on the SAP Community Network.

Last month, I attended the SAP BusinessObjects Cloud Pre-Sales Workshop at SAP’s Vancouver, BC office (see related SCN article). Approximately two dozen pre-sales professionals from various North American partners received intensive training on how to use SAP BusinessObjects Cloud. We also received a tour of the SAP Digital Boardroom, which is built on SAP BusinessObjects Cloud (which in turn is built on the SAP HANA Cloud platform, or HCP).

There are some compelling things about the SAP Digital Boardroom and I’ve shared some observations from the partner training on the SAP Community Network.

Read Thoughts on the SAP Digital Boardroom on the SAP Community Network.

Celebrate the Small Stuff Along the Road to BI Maturity

Wherever your organization is on its business intelligence journey, I hope you’ll take the time to celebrate success whenever and wherever it happens.

My son recently finished kindergarten, his first year of public education. His mother and I were invited, along with the other parents, to a special end-of-year party to celebrate.

I learned from my son’s kindergarten teacher the importance of celebrating small steps of progress. There are lessons here for business intelligence teams and I’ve written some observations in the Business Intelligence Community on the SAP Community Network.

Wherever your organization is on its business intelligence journey, I hope you’ll take the time to celebrate success whenever and wherever it happens.

Read Celebrate the Small Stuff Along the Road to BI Maturity on the SAP Community Network.

The Business Intelligence Barista Promise

Love your business intelligence or let us know. We’ll always make it right.

The Starbucks Barista Promise, written on nearly every Starbucks cup, asks us to “Love your beverage or let us know. We’ll always make it right.”



What would happen if we put “Love your business intelligence or let us know. We’ll always make it right.” on our work?

My Opinion (and Yours) about Fact-Based Decisions

A single version of the truth that we can all disagree about.

Yesterday was election day in the United States. We elect our House of Representatives every two years. Senate terms are 6 years, so there’s only a handful of 100 seats up for grabs during any election cycle. There are basically two facts in the election outcome: Republicans extending their majority in the House with 243 seats and taking leadership in the Senate with 52 seats.

2014 US Election Results Washington Post
image courtesy The Washington Post

But there are a variety of opinions. Search through various media sources and you can find an analysis piece that meshes with your core beliefs. Liberal or conservative. Republican or Democrat. American or not. Fan of President Obama or otherwise. We’ve got you covered.

In the analytics industry, we’re frequently reminded by our tool vendors how awful it could be that users might show up to a meeting and argue over different sets of facts, especially with the current batch of “data discovery” tools that allow users to (gasp) analyze numbers that may not have come from the enterprise data warehouse. But an election is proof that you can have a single version of the truth- the vote counts- and still have an endless buffet of opinions about what the election results mean and what will or should happen next.

This phenomenon is not limited to politics. Perhaps your organization’s sales are up. Perhaps they’re not. Maybe that new product is beating sales expectations. Maybe it isn’t. Even if the facts aren’t in dispute, there may not be consensus on the next steps for leadership to take. We’re all human. And we all excel at making any set of facts fit our perception of reality, whether true or not. We’ll see what we want to see.

In the US government, we have “checks and balances” that allow a diverse set of voices to forge the (often messy) path forward. May it be so in our own organizations.

Food for thought.


Meet Me at Starbucks

What can we learn from Starbucks’ first global ad campaign?

Starbucks Cup with Dallas Name 500

Last week, Starbucks launched its first global ad campaign, “Meet Me at Starbucks”. Shot over a 24-hour period in 40 Starbucks stores across 28 countries, it reminds me of Apple’s “shot around the world in one day” commercial, 1.24.14. The 30-second and 60-second spots cull footage from longer documentaries that you can watch on Starbuck’s special “Meet Me” web site. The ads illuminate the human interactions that occur daily at the “third place” Starbucks creates between our “first place” of home and our “second place” of work.


In my recent ASUG presentation, Secrets of a Business Intelligence Barista, I made the case for integrating the Starbucks customer experience into our Business Intelligence Competency Centers.

The business intelligence competency center is a third place between the cubicle and corporate IT that provides a collaborative environment to solve business challenges and align execution to organizational strategy.

I’m a realist- “Meet Me at the Business Intelligence Competency Center” isn’t going to generate the same emotional response that Starbucks has achieved with their new campaign. But I’m also an idealist. Solving business problems with data? That’s something that can be life-changing for the people we serve.

Some of our business intelligence consumers are gregarious. Some are cantankerous. But as you begin your week today, look beyond the crisis of the moment. Look beyond the technology. Take a moment to make the human connection.

What’s your reaction to Starbucks’ new campaign?


Today is a big day for tech news.

On September 9, 1956, Elvis Presley appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show for the first time. Today, SAP Mentor and my friend and co-worker Greg Myers will appear on a #askSAP webcast for the first time alongside SAP’s Jayne Landry, Ty Miller, and Blair Wheadon. Big news is also expected from Apple and Tableau.

Sounds like a good day to take a long lunch. At a place with great wi-fi bandwidth.

Blackberry (remember them?) isn’t jumping on the September 9th bandwagon, but will have its own See The Bigger Picture event (giant phones?) on September 24.